For several months now, Newt Gingrich has been engaging in a revisionist history of his government shutdown of 1995, claiming that it was not only a good fiscal move but also great partisan politics.
That claim was so obviously nuts that there seemed little point in rebutting it. The government shutdown was disastrous for the Republicans in Congress. The public hated it, and it probably helped Bill Clinton to win re-election in 1996. Enuf said?
Apparently not. Ga. Congressman Lynn Westmoreland has joined the Gingrich bandwagon, calling for a government shutdown if Republicans win the House. (h/t Dave Weigel):
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) addressed the Faith & Freedom Conference with a hook you’re hearing more and more often. He reminded the crowd that after Republicans won Congress in 1994, they forced a fight over the budget with President Clinton.
“The government shut down,” said Westmoreland — and the crowd started cheering. “That’s what I wanted to hear! A good clap for that!”
According to Westmoreland, if they won a House majority Republicans were going to be “ready to hold the line and get those courageous men and woman” in the new class to stand fast and shut down the government. How would they avoid a repeat of 1995/1996, when the public turned against the shutdown and the GOP buckled?
“We want you with us,” said Westmoreland. “We gotta have you there. Because they’re going to come and say, ‘Daddy can’t go to the VA, the national parks are closed’ … we need to make sure you’re going to be with us.”
For a bit of reality, here are excerpts from a Washington Post news story from Dec. 1995:
As House Plan Flops, GOP Shifts the Blame For Federal Shutdown
For two weeks, House Republicans behaved like belligerent true believers, so determined or desperate to achieve a balanced budget that they were willing to keep the government closed until they got their way.
Day after day, as they took a drubbing in the court of public opinion, their position hard ened. Committee chairmen stormed to the well of the House to quote Winston S. Churchill in full roar, promising “We shall never surrender.”
Only three days ago, Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) issued a public declaration that his troops — utterly frustrated in their dealings with the Clinton administration — would never vote to reopen the government unless a balanced budget deal had been reached.
That seemed to change Friday, when House Republicans suddenly began portraying themselves as friends of the federal work force and boasted of a plan that would return furloughed public employees to their jobs.